Friday, October 26, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm just back from my third and, hopefully, final stay at the Les Genets medical clinic here in Ouagadougou. Yes, after all my worries over the various illnesses of JP and Severin, I'm the one that ended up with a nice (well, not really) five-day rest at the hospital.
It all started innocently enough, On the 13th, I had a little nap in the afternoon. Unusual for me, but not unprecedented. But when I woke up, I was cold. Freezing. "Gee!" I thought to myself "The cold season is starting a month early this year. Global warming! Climate change!" But further reflection brought up the possiblility that a simpler answer, ie: my body temperature was freakishly high, might be more likely. I traded in Occam's Razor for a thermometer and found out I was at 102F and rising. But I had no other symptoms and hoped it was just one of those weird viruses so common over here. Well, it turned out to be a whole bunch of parasites. Creepy little things. I had to spend four days on intravenous quinine and spent my time alternating between vomitting, sleeping and staring at the ceiling fan.
So, that's what's been up with me. They let me go home on Friday night and I spent the weekend resting. I'm feeling a lot better today- not up to hitting the gym, but I am at the internet café, so that's progress.
When I arrived home on Friday, there was a "Welcome Back Home" poster waiting for me on the door. It was illustrated with portraits of almost all of our pets. (The chickens got left out, but I don't feel all that close to them, anyway.) I think Aslan's yellow eyes are especially expressive, not to mention accurately rendered.
BTW, Aslan is soon going to be pulling a tiny cart! Could this get any more fun? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


On Friday afternon, I had the kids all at the doctor's office for their school medical certificates. They needed them so that they can participate in the after school sports activities here. The twins are going to continue with dance classes, while Severin wants to learn fencing. But he wont be brandishing a foil anytime soon. He woke up Saturday morning with a fever of 104°F and a quick blood test revealed that he was full of parasites, more so than JP had been. So, he spent a long three days on the couch. He mainly slept the first two days, but yesterday felt well enough to watch "Godzilla vs Mothra" (The review I linked to is from a site called "Stomp Tokyo", which I think is an extremely entertaining name. Not that I have anything against the city in question.) In this film, Godzilla fights a giant(yes, you guessed it) moth. I feel a special connection to the insect, as my own mother was IN ONE OF HIS MOVIES! Sort of. She was in some of the crowd scenes in the original "Mothra "(1961), but got left on the cutting room floor. Still, as a child, I was firmly convinced that my mom was a movie star.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Severin watched the badly dubbed Japanese monster movie, got over his malaria and promptly caught a bad cold. Good health seems elusive. At least he doesn't have appendicitis, which we feared at one point. He had a pain on his right which seemed ominous, but it seems to have been a symptom of malaria and dehydration.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Well, I guess I won't be getting an honorary medical degree anytime soon. Despite the Quinimax, JP got worse. I had to call the doctor in yesterday. (Many doctors here do housecalls! How amazing is that?) Anyway, the doctor determined that, while JP has a mild low-level malaria infection, his main problem is pneumonia. So, now he's on antibiotics and forbidden to go to work until Monday at the earliest.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

JP (the DH in my life, for those of you who don't know me IRL) came home from Bamako with a low-key, but somehow still fairly irritating cough. He's just been to a conference up in Mali and had had to sit out the last two days because he felt miserable. The doctor up there told him he had a "viral bronchitis" and sent him on his way with a bottle of cough syrup. I, on the other hand, took one look at him and said "Malaria".
"But they gave me a blood test in Bamako. They said I didn't have it." He protested.
But of course, all that meant was that he didn't have many parasites in his blood at the time. The amount goes up and down, peaking with high fevers and descending in between. I made him go to a lab here for another bloodtest and, sure enough, he had baby bugs in his blood. Lots of them at this point, as he had been letting them run rampant for nearly one whole week. Bugs in your blood. How creepy is THAT?
So, he's at home resting and taking Quinimax. It's nasty stuff, but quite effective. Very common side effects are: buzzing in the ears, sudden loss of hearing, dizziness, headaches, visual disturbances, and nausea. So, you spend the five days of your treatment feeling just as bad as someone who is taking nothing at all. But, of course, you don't die in the end, which is the fate of the many people here that can't afford even the most basic medications for common, dangerous illnesses.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This recipe stuff isn't as easy as it looks. I got several emails which all could be boiled down to the following text: "Dear Beth, I love you to pieces, but you are the world's worst recipe blogger. How MUCH cream? What QUANTITY of strawberies. Jeez! Sincerely, XXX" Right. That would be about four cups of whipped cream. If you are doing real cream, add sugar to taste after you have stirred in your berries. As for the berries, I'd say about a pound.
Actually, from this recipe, the ininitiated might think that we live far diffrently than we do. You may imagine me cheerfully gliding through a large supermarket, loading up on frozen strawberries and Dream Whip. No so. It is impossible to buy frozen fruit or vegetables here. My strawberries were all purchased by me during strawberry season (January-February) and promptly frozen. The Dream Whip was brought in my suitcase from the US. Occasionally you can find a whipped topping mix in one of the local shops here. But it is from Turkey and it looks scary. Whipping cream is more easily had, but tends to be very expensive, as it is flown in from France. The sprinkles are also brought from the USA, as none are to be found locally.
The cookies are found in local stores at a reasonable price. And the boxes are in general, extremely entertaining. I particlarly enjoy the Brossard brand box, as shown in the pic. What relation these French cookies bear to two small children riding on a speeding zebra, I know not. If you look closely, the little girl looks decidely miserable and terrified. It is a very strange and edgy box. At the bottom it reads (in French) "Guaranteed made with fresh eggs". In fact, it says that on all the boudoir cookie boxes. Are they implying that other types of cookies are made with rotten eggs? Or that in the past they USED to make their cookies with bad eggs, but they stopped that and now we can all munch away with a renewed peace of mind?